Life Takes Over!

So, dear readers, as you can tell, I have fallen WAY behind. This is a factor of a change in jobs last summer that keeps me even busier (didn’t think it was possible), living away from my family 4+ days a week (so not cooking), and sheer exhaustion.

However, I have been fairly active on Instagram and Twitter, so if you aren’t already following me there, you can (TheVeganAsana on both).

In yoga news, I’m still trying to practice 5-6 days a week, though often for a somewhat shorter time period. I struggled with trying to move my practice to mornings and it wasn’t very successful. RA presents obstacles there. So, it’s evening practice either alone or with an online video. Lately, I’ve been using videos from Fightmaster Yoga, though I’m always happy to hear about your favorites!

In food news, I’m not doing much cooking, but have been mostly eating salads, as that’s an easy meal for just me. But, I will put in a plug for a Philadelphia restaurant that I am loving to visit when I can. If you have not been to The Tasty, and you are a vegan in Philly, you should go!  It’s not the place to drop by if you are looking for a super nutritious meal, but if you want diner style comfort food that is vegan, it rocks. And the coffees are superb.

In life news, I’m using my paper planner (Filofax) as a creative outlet, by combining elements of bullet journaling and planning. Sometimes, I wonder if the pages are a little too cute for using in the office. Other times, I don’t care even a little.   This week, with only part of the Monday stuff added…  If you enjoy planner or bujo layouts, those tend to show up with some frequency on my Instagram feed.

I’m hoping that I can remember to post more, and that my author friend – Emmeline – will also post now and then. But, until next time, namaste!



Heating Up and Steeping for Time.

I’ve been searching for a tea kettle for a while now.

It seems like this should be a very easy task, but thus far it hasn’t been. I can find kettles that have decent reviews, but are not appealing or are so modern they will look silly in my kitchen. I can locate kettles that look gorgeous, but are priced outrageously. I can see kettles that are medium priced and lovely, but are glass and likely to shatter. Many kettles seem to suffer from rusting, flaking, or peeling, and longevity is an issue.

It all makes me wonder why it is so challenging to find the perfect tea kettle, and why I am so intent on the perfect tea kettle.

At the bottom, a tea kettle is only a mechanism to  heat water. I could do this in the microwave. I could use a pot on the stove. Yet, there seems to be a need for a kettle to heat the water the right way.

Making tea is complicated, like making life.

The tea kettle is but one component of making tea, but it’s an important one. The water needs to be sufficiently hot, but not so hot that it causes the tea to become bitter, or so over-boiled that it takes on the taste of the pot. Without the appropriately heated water, you simply cannot make good tea.

Similarly, in our day to day lives, we need to generate a certain amount of tapas (heat, energy) in order to create change or accomplishment. Without this heat, we can easily become like still water – stagnating, flat, taking on the flavors of our routine.

Sources of tapas, like a good tea kettle, aren’t always easy to find. Sometimes I know that I need to move or change or do, but I am inert. I see that my routines aren’t serving me, and my plans are in need of either revision or action if I am to help them unfold, but I fall right back into the same pattern. I literally get up at the same time, go to bed at the same time, attend the same yoga classes, socialize (or not) with the same people. Even where I’m not happy with these patterns, sometimes I get stuck in the phase of looking for a source of tapas to heat things up and get them rolling/roiling.

Other times, the source of tapas comes suddenly or unexpectedly. The big pile of work that needs to be done is there, and I know it. But, I find myself pushing it to the edges of my desk and my mind and instead surfing the net or flipping TV channels (often at the same time while I try to go to sleep). And then an announcement of a deadline arrives, and it’s soon! Somewhere in my head I knew it was coming, but I had been avoiding it. Suddenly there is fire under the kettle and things heat right up. The challenge then becomes preventing the pot from boiling over.

But, even when I do manage (sometimes through my own efforts and sometimes through external factors that seem largely out of my control) to get the molecules moving, there remains the challenge of not becoming so focused on the end that the process is lost.

When making a good cup of tea, the “end” is an empty cup. But, along the way, time is needed to steep the tea, carefully and slowly and with attention. Otherwise, it’s gone and all that is left is a bad taste in the  mouth, vague dissatisfaction, and the sense of a job poorly done.

In my life, it can be this way too. The catalyst strikes, energy to get the task done builds, and I’m underway. If I don’t catch myself there and turn things down a little, it’s pretty easy for me to rush through what I am doing. And then I either make a mistake, do a poor job, or miss the whole experience.

Sometimes this results in “little bads.” For example, in a rush this week, I poured icy water into my sinuses. That is not cool (actually, it was cold, but you see what I mean), but it wasn’t a big deal. Sometimes it results in “big bads,” like the wrong life path taken, or a bridge burned that can’t be rebuilt. I hope you’ll excuse me if I don’t give you an example of my big bads, but maybe you can think of some in your own life.

Perhaps, lately, this tea kettle is a metaphor for a bunch of other things going on, or not going on, in my life, and I’m fretting about selecting one because I don’t want to be pushed into action – my routine is comfortable. But, ultimately, change is one of the only certainties in this existence. Eventually, you have to heat the water. And for that, you need a kettle.

Knowing When Your Body Needs a Day

I’ve written about this before (here, for example), but I think it’s a topic worth coming back to.  I know that I continue to struggle with it on a daily basis, and judging from things like this post from my wonderful Ironwoman friend Maria, I’m not alone.

Photo: ButterflySha

Sometimes, it’s just not easy to tell what it is your body needs.  I woke up this morning with the same stomach ache that I’ve had for almost three weeks (due to iron supplements – long story – I’ve been living on crackers and the occasional toast).  My left hip was killing me and I hadn’t slept well.  My right shoulder is also being screwy and started giving me pain as soon as I got out of bed and gravity hit.  And, for a little extra woohoo, my head hurts.  Yeah, I’m a pathetic mess.  But, here is the catch, I’m trying to go to yoga on Saturday mornings.  I used to be able to go on Friday mornings, but this semester I teach too early to do that.  Friday night is an option, but last night I had an event to attend until 11.  That leaves Saturday morning.  So, I got out the yoga clothes and went downstairs and made a cup of tea and some toast.  And then I sat down at my desk to check email and work on convincing myself to go to class.  That went on for about an hour.  And then I gave it up.  I admitted to myself that going to class was not the best choice, and that my body was in no shape to complete a full vinyasa class in any manner that would really bring me closer to peace and union.  But, I can’t lie, I was still (am still) not happy about it.  A bit later, when I napped for a short period, my dreams were full of what a horrible yogi I am.  Clearly, I still have some things to work out.

In some ways, I wonder why this respecting the needs of the body is so hard.  But, in other ways, I know.  We are taught, so early, to ignore the body.  We eat and sleep at prescribed times and not according to the body clock.  We feed the body food that has been processed so much that it is without nutrient instead of the foods it naturally needs.  We spray it with chemicals to prevent it from smelling even remotely like a human mammal body.  We push it to be a certain size because that is socially acceptable, regardless of where the body’s natural set point for size might be.  We shut the body up and shut it down in so many ways; it’s no wonder that we have trouble hearing it even when we want to.

Photo: Andrea Parrish - Geyer

My challenge is, and perhaps will always be, to practice ahimsa with my body.  To hear what my body has to say without judging it.  To take its needs and requests seriously.  To give my body a “day off” when it needs it.  And to let myself be if my body doesn’t always match up to what I want it to be and do.  As I sit here at my desk writing this post, noticing that my work schedule is going to prevent yoga on Monday and trying to avoid letting that put me back into a bad place about not going today, I know that this is likely to be a lifelong practice.  Perhaps this journey is my destination.